Survival Seeds

Friday, April 30, 2010

Snaggin' for Spoonbill

In Oklahoma, spring comes which means rain. With the rain comes a raise in the river which means snaggin' for all the rednecks who love this sport.

We snag for spoonbill which is not any more complicated than it sounds. You have a large rod with heavy line, a barbless treble hook and a lead weight/sinker on the end. You throw out and pull back, then swing forward while you are reeling. You continue until your hook and sinker get near you, reel it totally in and then repeat. It actually is a great work out and I caught my first of the season on Monday night.

Some information from the Oklahoma Wildlife Department:

When it comes to unusual, it doesn’t get much stranger than the paddlefish.
The paddlefish takes its common and scientific names from its distinctive snout,
which is greatly elongated and flattened into a paddle shape. One of Oklahoma’s
largest fish, the paddlefish feeds on tiny zooplankton (microscopic insects)
and, like a shark, it has a completely cartilaginous skeletal system.

The paddlefish was alive when dinosaurs were rumbling around in the Jurassic Period.
Paddlefish are one of the most unique fish in Oklahoma. They can live up to
30-35 years ranging throughout the U.S., from Montana to Louisiana. In Oklahoma,
they are found mainly in the Grand, Neosho and Arkansas River systems. The
Wildlife Department promulgates rules to increase the protection for paddlefish
to ensure this prehistoric fish will thrive through a few more Ice Ages.

Male paddlefish are old enough to spawn when they are four to nine years.
Females spawn when they are 6-12 years old. Spawning season is from March
through June, when spring rains raise the water levels of rivers and water
temperatures reach 50-60 degrees. Males and females gather in schools and
release their eggs over gravel or sandbars. This is called "broadcast spawning."
By the end of their first year, baby paddlefish grow about 10 to 12 inches. They
can live up to 35 years.

Paddlefish are caught by snagging, usually beginning sometime in March and ending in late April, during their early spring spawning run. This prehistoric fish can be caught by snagging with a stout surf rod, heavy test line, and a large barbless treble hook.

Paddlefish were once very abundant, but have declined in numbers. Threats to paddlefish include:
-Construction of dams which have affected breeding and feeding patterns
-Fish kills and water quality issues associated with dam operations
-Illegal harvest of adult paddlefish for caviar

In 1992 fisheries biologists began an effort to re-introduce paddlefish to some of the waters they
once roamed. Dams on several rivers had blocked the annual movements of
paddlefish in several river systems. Hatchery professionals raised young
paddlefish at fish hatcheries in Byron and Tishomingo and then released them in
Kaw, Oologah, Texoma, and Hugo lakes.

Brent Gordon, Northeast Region Fisheries Biologist for the Wildlife Department, is working to develop a management plan for this unique species. Gordon and his colleagues have placed
tags on thousands of paddlefish in Grand and Ft. Gibson Lakes, and tags are
currently being placed on paddlefish in Hudson Lake in an effort to get a better
understanding of the status of the paddlefish population. This research is being
paid for through the federally-administered State Wildlife Grant.

When you see the rod bow and feel the pull of the fish there is nothing that is a greater rush than the time that you spend fighting with this animal, trying to get it in. We snag for the sport but there are those who keep the fish. You are allowed to keep one a day and once you tag one to keep you are done fishing for the day. Barbless hooks are used so that there is less damage to the fish and the fish can be put back into the water quicker.

Spoonbill are a truly amazing species. If you were ever able to see one up close they actually have a beautiful design on their skin, almost like hundreds of flowers all over them. I am looking forward to snaggin' quite a few more over the next few weeks, me and my pink pole. Yes, I seriously have a white and pink pole. I love to get down by the bank with the boys and show them that a girl can do everything that they do!

Here are a few pictures from Tuesday night at the river.

Fish On!!!

He is enjoying the fight and embarrassed that I cornered him and got the picture!

The angler in the blue has a fish on. The angler in the camo is waiting to "land" it for him. He will grab the fish pull the hook out and either throw it back or carry it up to the bank, whichever the angler who caught it prefers.We are always helping each other out. This was a man who was well over 6 feet to give you an idea of how large the fish was.

Here she is! She was beautiful. The angler decided that when he caught her, he was done and was going home! Can't say that I blame him!

Another angler with a fish hooked.
Walt has another one on!
This angler is waiting to land the fish of another angler who has hooked it.
(shhhhh.... don't tell anyone, but that is my gorgeous husband. I have to show him off!!!)
And it is mission accomplished. Am I wrong on the gorgeous part? I didn't think so!
His is 5'10" so that gives you an idea of the size of the fish.
A group of anglers snagging on the bank of the river
We love to snag and catch these amazing fish but we also want to educate those around us about the conservation and proper treatment of the fish. If you have any questions ask and I will answer them. If you are wondering about it, I am sure that you aren't the only one! And if I don't know the answer, I will find out for you!


Kellyology said...

Loved all of those pictures. Thought they were great, and I know nothing about fishing so I found it interesting too. Thanks!

Ladee Melie said...

Just been in Oklahoma a couple of years, but please tell where you catch these spoonbills!

Tasha said...

Yes, tell us! I wanna know where, too!